With just a little under thirty days until Microsoft reaches the end of its extended buyout agreement with Activision Blizzard, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority seems to have gone radio silent on where it stands with a review of a new restructured acquisition.
Shortly after Microsoft notched a win over the US Federal Trade Commission for its bid to acquire Activision Blizzard by beating a preliminary injunction on the deal, the CMA, which previously denied the deal globally from moving forward, decided to reconsider its position thanks to an appeal to the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal.
When it looked like Microsoft may have had life breathed back into its deal regarding UK markets full stop following scrutinization of the CMA’s original handling of the review, the company pitched a restructuring of its original deal that would offload Activision’s cloud streaming licensing business to Ubisoft.
Since proposing that Ubisoft become the arbiter of Activision Blizzard’s streaming rights, the CMA has been uncharacteristically tight lipped on its ongoing re-review of Microsoft’s tweaked acquisition.
Fortunately, someone has been keeping tabs.
Journalist and resident online patents expert Florian Mueller at @FOSSpatents has done a spectacular job of keeping readers abreast of the legal minutia that’s been going on between Microsoft and the CMA during the waning months of a re-review.
In a new thread on Mueller’s Twitter handle (yes, I know some people now refer to it as X), he breaks down what’s transpired in the legal morass of the deal over the past few months as Microsoft approaches its increased breakup fee deadline on this whole Activision bid next month.
In the UK it's September 18, i.e., only one month to go until the Microsoft-ActivisionBlizzard deadlines (the one in the UK proceeding and the one under the extended merger agreement; no coincidence there).
It's been about 4 weeks since the modified deal was announced.
— Florian Mueller (@FOSSpatents) September 18, 2023
Mueller goes on to explain how the CAT viewed the original CMA analysis of the deal to be off when the regulatory body attempted to argue console market harm theories.
Furthermore, he believes the re-review process is a little more than procedural undertaking since Microsoft seemingly has pitched a solution to the CMA’s principal concern regarding the deal and its effects on the cloud streaming market.
With the CAT forcing the CMA to go back to the drawing board to reassess Microsoft and Activision proposed acquisition, the CMA has now taken close to 57 days to conclude its phase 1 re-review, and many expect a ruling sometime shortly before the October 18, 2023 deadline, which if missed, would force Microsoft to hand over $4.5B in compensation to Activision for failing to wrap of its takeover in a timely manner.
With Microsoft divesting its interest in streaming licenses for Activision Blizzard titles, many thought that would be enough to appease the CMA and force a quicker review and decision this time around but the regulatory body seems content to draw out its review until the last minute or beyond.
With no further publicized communications between the CMA and Microsoft, it simply remains a waiting game for gamers as a $4.5B deadline inches closer.